“Why does the body feel like moving when hearing drums? I was amazed, perplexed, fell into an empowering love at once when I saw in front of me this group of women, all with a drum tied to their belt, dancing to this youthful, repetitive, and fast-pace rhythm of the drums,” writes Natalia Chamorro in a story about art and activism that she will share at the Herstory Freedom Forum all day Saturday at Stony Brook University. Her story will be unveiled as part of Herstory’s digital archival collection at Hofstra the same day.
“I want to believe I could show such a strength that makes a throat tremble with emotion, perhaps with my writing. Perhaps I can make someone feel courageous in many parts of their being.”
“Or at least feel without needing to understand it all. Perhaps, I want to believe, I can send batucada drum sounds from my fingertips in my laptop towards someone else’s eyes.”
“The night Marcelo died,” Susan Perretti writes, “Chuck and I were right in the village, a short walk from where the murder took place. It was the night of our musician friend Jack’s annual ‘world peace party,’ and this year, Jack had kids from a local high school bring the drums they had built themselves down to the Congregational Church on Main Street, so we could start off the evening with a giant drumming circle. After a while, all the drums in the room started to beat as one, and it was like we had come together to become one mighty heart, and the whole chapel was vibrating.”
Her piece will become the drumbeat and the heartbeat of the marathon story-shaping event that will be this year’s Freedom Forum, dedicated to the memory of Marcelo Lucero, the Ecuadorean immigrant who was stabbed to death in Patchogue in 2008. It runs from 12:30 to 6 p.m. in the university’s Charles B. Wang Center. Admission and refreshments are free.
As she describes her journey from mourning to organizing, Ms. Perretti evokes a moment when “surrounded by so many on the dimly lit street near the spot where they killed Marcelo, I raised my candle as high as I could, and I didn’t feel shy anymore. I felt the power of the people gathered there, calling out in what began to sound like one voice, like the one heartbeat of the drumming circle, calling out for peace, calling out for the freedom to walk the streets without fear, calling out for their children, calling out for Marcelo.”
It was the image of the drumbeat, like a heartbeat, that came to me also on that day three and half years ago when I met with the statewide representatives of the Freedom Forum movement who had asked Herstory to be the shaper and the keeper of Long Island’s share. It was the image of a giant marathon of story-hearing and story-shaping that would rise from the hearts of each person in the room — the opening moments of each story previously unimagined, as we called out for courage to reshape our world.
Like a heartbeat, like a drumbeat, please join us to add your voice and your story to our movement to restore our world.
Erika Duncan is the founder and director of the Herstory Writers Workshop. She lives in Sag Harbor.
Freedom Forums are a program of the National Parks of New York Harbor Conservancy. East End partners for Saturday’s forum are the Rural and Migrant Ministry and Southampton Head Start.